Last weekend a friend and hunting buddy we will call “Big Dave” held his annual wild game feast in Whiting Indiana (home of the world famous PierogiFest). It’s a pot luck dinner where hunters grab something they harvested from the freezer, cook it and bring it along. He also provides grills for on-site grilling.
While attending these dinners over the years I have tasted pheasant, duck, goose, dove, quail, venison, elk, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, beaver, tiger and bear. As far as seafood goes we have had perch, bluegill, walleye, crappie, catfish, pike, salmon, trout, dorado and mahi (my bro makes excellent fish tacos, just ask Dan and Carl).
I will say this again, you need no special recipes to cook a great wild game dinner. By using your favorite recipes a fine game feast can be had but there are times when minor adjustments are necessary. My chili recipe is one where such an adjustment needed to be made.
Chili has so many spices and ingredients added that one could use polecat meat and nobody would know the difference. My chili recipe is unlike traditional Texas chili, it would not win the Terlingua National Championship. Like I care. I make no claim that my chili is a prize winner but it’s damn good to me.
My chili has a solid TexMex flavor but the texture would lose the contest since mine is a bit thin. Using venison is easy, getting venison flavor is easy too if you know what you’re doing.
My Chili Recipe:
3 lb coarse ground chuck roast (do it yourself or ask the butcher to do it) hamburger is OK…I guess.
2 lb cubed chuck (½” cubes)
1 c vegetable oil
2 huge white onions, diced
1 red bell pepper
2 cans diced green chilis
1-2 jalapenos diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 c water
12 oz of your favorite Miller High Life beer
1 12oz can diced tomatoes\1 can tomato paste
9 T chili powder
2 bay leaves
4 T ground cumin
1t ground oregano
½ t coriander
½ t beau monde spoce mixture
1 t Tabasco sauce
1 t ground cayenne
1 T honey
1 T beef bullion granules
1 T paprika
½ t white pepper
1 T salt
1 t coarse ground black pepper
Cut all ingredients ahead of time and have them ready. Same with the spices, have them mixed in bowls and ready to go. Have everything nearby for easier cooking. You want to focus your attention on cooking, not measuring and cutting. This is where many cooks screw up and say that they are not good cooks as an excuse for unsatisfactory results.
Heat ½ c veg oil in a large pot (LeCruset is my favorite). Set heat to medium high. Add onions, red bell pepper, jalapeno, green chilis and garlic, sautee until soft. Remove from pot, drain some oil and reserve.
Add remaining ½ c oil to the pot, set heat on high and when oil is hot enough add the meat and keep stirring meat to keep it from clumping. Brown meat. Drain off the oil and fat.
Add vegetables to the pot with meat along with 3 c water, can of beer, tomato sauce and paste along with the chili powder. Bring to a boil and stir then simmer for 30 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and 1 c water, bring to a boil and simmer over very low heat for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally.
Add 1 T masa harina (corn flour) to the last 1c water if you like your chili thick, it also adds a slight tortilla note to the dish.
Add the ground venison for steps 1-3. Reserve the cubed venison until the last ½ hour of cooking time. Brown first then add. The cubed venison will allow the chili to gain that venison flavor, otherwise you would not know the venison from beef.
I prefer to top my chili with fresh finely chopped onion and jalapeno with grated sharp cheddar on the very top.
My favorite is to add noodles (spaghetti noodles or rotini pasta) to the bowl and top with chili. A spin in the microwave warms it all and then I top it with the aforementioned ingredients.
It's is much better than good.